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Calendar of Newspaper Articles dealing with Civil Rights issues, 1 Jun 1968 - 9 Dec 1968 by Alan Scott

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Text: Alan Scott

Introduction     1968:   | June | July | August | September | October | November | December |
October:   | 1-5 | 7-12 | 14-19 | 21-26 | 28-31 |
1 - 5 October:   1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Top |

1 October, 1968

Irish News

'Investigate North' call for Labour conference

Report: The Labour Party conference is likely to hear resolutions calling for an investigation of the administration of government in Northern Ireland, with regard to discrimination in housing and employment, electoral malpractices and the Special Powers Act. The resolutions also call on Westminster to use its powers under the Government of Ireland Act where necessary.

[BT, 24 July, 6 September, 30 September, NL, 25 July]

Belfast Telegraph

YU's [sic] attack council's 'behaviour'

Report: Newry Young Unionists condemn the suggestion that the town should be administered by a commissioner, and that housing allocation should lie in the hands of the housing manager alone.

[NL, 10 October]

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2 October, 1968

Irish News

'Press urgently for reforms in NI'

Report: A Connolly Association member urges the British Labour movement to press urgently for reforms in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph

2 in court after civil rights march

Report: Two men receive fines resulting from their actions during the Dungannon civil rights march.

[NL, 3 October]

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3 October, 1968

Irish News

Fitt makes five demands for the North

Leader: Fitt, speaking to a meeting of the CDU, claims, 'all I am asking for is that the same rights and privileges which are enjoyed by the people in Doncaster should be afforded to the people of Dungannon and Derry.' He demands a British franchise for Northern Ireland; the extension of the responsibilities of the parliamentary commissioner to include Northern Ireland; the extension of the Race Relations Act, modified to encompass religion; and an investigation of discrimination. If such reforms are not extended, he argues, then Northern Ireland cannot be considered an integral part of the UK. The 'oppressed minority' is now prepared to 'take steps to remedy the situation.'

Belfast Telegraph

'Civil trouble' warning by Fitt

Report: Fitt warns of a possible escalation of civil strife in Northern Ireland unless reforms are introduced quickly. Without one-man-one-vote, house building and allocation cannot be conducted on a fair basis. He also warns the CDU-organised meeting at which he is speaking at the Labour Party conference, of possible trouble following the forthcoming civil rights march. He is hoping to bring six Westminster MPs to Derry to witness events. Rose condemns the Special Powers Act and the restricted local government franchise. Stanley Orme, Westminster MP, calls on the British government to instruct the Northern Ireland government to 'put its house in order.' The gathering is to send a resolution of support to the Derry civil rights marchers.

Irish News

British MPs being invited to see what can happen in Derry

Report: Fitt is inviting six British MPs to the Derry civil rights march, 'to witness what can happen in what is allegedly an integral part of the UK.' At the meeting, praise is extended to the civil rights movement, and its restraint at Dungannon is lauded. Fitt says that the CRA embraces members of all religious denominations, all of whom share the desire to fight government abuses. He claims police brutality at Dungannon, and expects more police intervention in Derry - hence his invitation to the MPs.

Devolution inquiry must take in North

Report: NILP chairman Paddy Devlin feels that the devolution inquiry promised by the Labour government must take in Northern Ireland, in order to further expose the abuses that exist there. He says that O'Neill is stalling for time, hoping that he will not have to implement his promises in light of the possible fall of the Westminster government and the return of the Conservatives.

Devolution inquiry may include North

Report: The inquiry into devolution promised by Callaghan may encompass Northern Ireland. Unionist sources claim that such an inquiry would look only at the machinery of government, but McAteer is hopeful that it would probe deeply into the working of the arrangements in the past, and would thus consult the minority community.

Human rights committee

Letter: A recent human rights conference failed to tackle 'Unionist injustice.' Perhaps civil rights activists could do better in facing the issues.

Civil rights march in Derry

Letter: All believers in human dignity and inalienable rights should participate in the Derry march. 'The Derry working class must participate in any action which openly challenges the relatively small clique of exploiters.' Other groups should follow the example set by the DHAC, and forge a party truly representative of the people, and one opposed to 'the oppressive economic and political system.'

(Matt O'Leary)

News Letter

Two fined in civil rights case

Report: Two men are fined for their behaviour during the Dungannon civil rights march.

[BT, 2 October]

Belfast Telegraph

Notice given of Derry parades

Report: An Apprentice Boys parade has been announced for Derry on 5 October, its route closely coinciding with that of the proposed civil rights march, organisers of which expect an attendance of 3,000 people. The Governor of the Apprentice Boys claims to have no knowledge of the parade, but states that he is not always informed by local clubs of their decisions. He also stresses that the route chosen has been used by the Apprentice Boys before.

The hawks and the doves

Comment: Shrewd observers believe that there is a growing tension within the republican movement over the use of violence. The leadership's peaceful approach, reflected in a recent speech, may not be finding favour at the grass roots level. Charges of communist infiltration of the republican movement would appear to have some basis in reality, and many of the rank and file do not like this departure either.

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4 October, 1968

Irish News

Indignation at ban on 'rights' march

Leader: Craig's decision to ban the Derry civil rights march causes 'shockwaves of indignation throughout Northern Ireland.' CDU members condemn the decision as 'monstrous' and will meet with Wilson and Callaghan to discuss the issue. The move may 'trigger action by the Labour Party in Britain into the Northern Ireland administration.' Fitt speaks of 'seething discontent…particularly in Derry.' He feels the ban to be 'a deliberate attempt to provoke a peaceful demonstration.' The ban was imposed because of an Apprentice Boys demonstration, but the civil rights organisers were not told of this by police, and the Governor of the Apprentice Boys of Derry has said that he 'knew of no parade or march planned by his organisation.' NICRA sees the ban as an 'incitement to disorder' and has sent a telegram to Wilson calling for his intervention.

News Letter

Derry rights march banned

Report: Craig bans the proposed Derry civil rights march and an Apprentice Boys ceremony in the city to avoid possible 'serious public disorder.' The civil rights march had planned to march through the predominantly protestant Waterside district of Derry. McAnerney claims that the chosen route has been used by other organisations, and that the civil rights movement should likewise be able to parade along it in light of its non-political nature. He also asserts that it is Craig's duty to prevent public disorder rather than the march. McAteer claims 'Mr Craig obviously regards any procession other than an Orange procession as hostile.' Albert Anderson supports Craig's ban. Fitt tells the CDU that he is inviting Labour MPs to the proposed march. The Shankill UPV issues a statement deploring the ban on the Apprentice Boys parade, and states 'we fear that this sets a dangerous precedent in that in future the rights of loyalists and protestants to parade may be disrupted by a proposed civil rights march.' Some organisations supportive of civil rights intend to defy the ban on the Derry march; NICRA will meet with local organisers to decide on the next move. A telegram of protest is sent to Wilson.

Belfast Telegraph

Derry parade ban 'will be defied'

Report: Some groups have signalled their intention to defy the ban imposed on the Derry civil rights march by Craig. Police reinforcements are being brought into the city. Fitt says that five British MPs will come to Derry no matter what happens. Callaghan has had meetings with several MPs to discuss Northern Ireland. Two Apprentice Boys members deny that their parade was conceived only recently. Craig has banned the marches for fear of a clash, on police advice. He describes NICRA as 'a republican-nationalist organisation,' which wants to march outside areas customarily understood to be its own territory. Derry Labour Party condemns 'this scandalous denial of freedom.' The DHAC challenges the authenticity of the claim that the Apprentice Boys march is traditional, and asserts that no clash would in any case erupt between the two marches in view of the fact that the Apprentice Boys demonstration will take place in the morning while the civil rights march is scheduled to begin in the afternoon. NICRA sends a telegram of protest to Wilson, calling on him to investigate the ban.

Irish News

McAteer tells of protest to Craig

Report: McAteer says that the ban on the Derry march was predictable. He telephones Craig to protest at the decision, but the minister for home affairs expresses the opinion that the march is 'a nationalist-republican parade.' He adds that, while the Apprentice Boys parade is 'a traditional thing,' it is also unfortunately subject to the ban. McAteer says that this highlights the exclusive power of Unionism within Northern Ireland.

O'Neill's words 'an empty statement'

Report: Paddy Devlin argues that the ban shows O'Neill to be 'the greatest hypocrite in Northern Ireland politics.' He has talked of a middle ground in politics, yet his government is cutting away that middle ground. People, from whichever community, should enjoy the right to protest at social conditions. The use of the counter-demonstration as an excuse to ban the march is a re-run of a cynical tactic that has been used before. It is being used this time in order to prevent Westminster MPs from witnessing the realities of Derry. The move will only serve to promote rather than inhibit the growth of the civil rights movement.

'Dismay' at action of minister

Report: The Belfast and District Trades Union Council will bring the ban decision to the attention of the Labour Party conference, of O'Neill and of Callaghan. A resolution calls for the respecting of the right to demonstrate, especially in view of the fact that the very same right is extended to organisations with which the government is linked. Discrimination should be brought to an end, for then the government would not be in the embarrassing predicament in which it now finds itself.

Decision 'a put-up job' say Derry Labour men

Report: Derry Labour plans to go ahead with the civil rights march. This is necessary because, 'the landlord class had managed to blinker the public conscience, because every issue was seen in sectarian terms, and because the so-called opposition guides all expressions of discontent along sterile "constitutional" lines, where over-emotional ranting passes for militancy.' Unionism will fall when protestant workers realise that they are not privileged - hence the government's attempt to smear the civil rights movement. Civil rights is a non-sectarian workers' movement.

'Blackmail pays' in 6 counties - NDP

Report: Joe McCann sees the ban on the march as an example of 'democracy Unionist style…where blackmail pays.' The Young Socialists consider the Apprentice Boys demonstration 'a feeble excuse' for the ban. Fundamental rights must be defended, and the Young Socialists still intend to take part in the march.

Government statement

Report: The civil rights march scheduled for 5 October will not be permitted under the Public Order Act. [Official government statement is reproduced.]

'Irish question' debate by Labour

Report: The Movement for Colonial Freedom has chosen to debate the topic of 'democracy and civil rights in Northern Ireland.'

March of protest

Editorial: 'It is difficult to see how there can ever be an honest expression of protest in this part of Ireland by those who not only disagree politically with Unionism, but also want to proclaim the burden of social injustice which makes them second-class citizens, when any proposal for public expression of their feelings can be so quickly put in jeopardy by elements who suddenly emerge with counter-proposals, thus leading to ministerial restrictions in the interests of public order.' Not only Unionists should enjoy rights, and those who do not possess them should be permitted the outlet of constitutional protest. 'Pious disclaimers of discrimination and the denial of civil rights are no longer acceptable. They are insolent as well.' The tactics employed by the government are undemocratic, and Derry represents 'the supreme example of an anti-democratic regime…That is why the majority of its citizens will be marching in protest on Saturday.'

Belfast Telegraph

Marching orders

Editorial: Craig's ban on the Derry civil rights march may prevent trouble, but it has brought wider attention to Northern Ireland. 'To let any semi-political body march on any street involves a degree of risk, and one might well ask…when this risk will be taken with anti-unionists?' It is unfair of Craig to label in anti-British terms those who disagree with a franchise and housing system different from that existing in Britain. 'In some ways, it is the movement's misfortune that it is so closely associated with such strident personalities as Mr Gerry Fitt, who can often be accused of exploiting a situation for his own political ends, but that it is founded in sincerely-held grievances is undeniable.' Derry's housing record is nothing to be proud of, and the problem at least has its partial root in Unionist unwillingness to upset the status quo. Not all Unionists favour the maintenance of such a system.

News Letter

A time for vigilance

Editorial: The IRA says that it is now concentrating on the infiltration of trade unions and civil rights demonstrations; however, vigilance against a return to violence must be maintained.

Irish News

O'Neill's speech 'utterly false,' says Labour man

Report: The Labour candidate for the forthcoming south Antrim by-election says that O'Neill's claim that Unionism meets the needs of working people is untrue. Both the Unionist and Nationalist Parties are sectarian in their approach. Only Labour, and possibly the Liberals, can claim a non-sectarian stance.

News Letter

Coulthard hits at main parties [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill's claim for Unionism 'false' [Report]

News Letter

GAA reception

Letter: Belfast city council was wrong to honour the GAA, a 'politically motivated society,' with a civic reception for the victorious all-Ireland Down football team. Despite attempts to improve community relations, 'Irish nationalism continues without compromise to exact its insatiable demands…Fairness, impartiality, and tolerance are acceptable prerequisites of any democratic system. These however, should not be confused with, or result in, the surrender of principles.'

Eire's recognition

Letter: O'Neill's brand of Unionism is non-sectarian and progressive, and Sir Knox Cunningham is to be condemned for speaking out against improved relations with the Republic of Ireland.

[see BT, 26 September, Questions for Sir Knox]

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5 October, 1968

Irish News

'Rights' march goes ahead as planned

Leader: A meeting of NICRA and the local organising committee decides unanimously to go ahead with the civil rights march in the city. One NICRA spokesman claims regret at the defiance of the ban, but argues that the march is necessary for the people of Derry, and that not enough notice was given of the ban in order for the marchers to find an alternative route. Westminster MP Stanley Orme condemns the decision, and claims that Westminster and Britain as a whole are well-acquainted with the situation in Northern Ireland. The CSJ makes an appeal to Wilson to help in the campaign for civil rights. Charles Brett, a former chairman of the NILP, says that by banning such demonstrations, 'Mr Craig is, in effect, sitting on the safety valve of the engine and if an explosion results he will have nobody but himself to thank.' The Derry Labour Party commends the organisers of the march for their refusal to abandon their enterprise, saying that workers have every right to march anywhere and at any time. 'We are not asking for our rights - we are taking them.' The DHAC questions the precedent for the Apprentice Boys initiation ceremony, and argues that the authorities would be to blame for 'anything that might happen during the march.'

News Letter

Rights marchers to defy minister's ban

Leader: The NICRA executive decides to go ahead with the civil rights march in Derry; extra police are being drafted into the city to deal with what Craig sees as a 'dangerous and provocative' situation. He emphasises that civil rights groups have every right to meet, but not in areas where this would be likely to cause provocation. If another meeting-place is not acceptable to the organisers, this only further supports the view that their intent is to provoke. The DHAC challenges the Apprentice Boys to find a precedent for their march. The group will march, but stresses that 'we are not seeking, and earnestly hope we will not encounter, any violence.' The Committee feels that Craig will be responsible for any trouble that occurs. It is understood that Callaghan would prefer Labour MPs who have been invited, not to travel to Derry. The NILP Young Socialists and the Young Socialist Alliance condemn the government's 'pure dictatorship' with regard to Derry.

Belfast Telegraph

Go home: plea to Derry crowd

Leader: Police tell civil rights demonstrators in Derry to disperse as tension mounts and a stand-off situation continues between marchers and police. Faulkner says that he is in favour of free expression, 'but no government worth its salt will allow provocation to cause civil strife among the people it is elected to protect.' The participants in the Apprentice Boys ceremony are earlier transported to their destination by car. Heatley claims that matters are now in the hands of the police, but any trouble will be Craig's responsibility, since 'we are prepared for a peaceful march.' The CSJ has protested to Wilson about the ban. Charles Brett, chairman of the NILP policy committee, says that 'Mr Craig's dismissal as nationalist and republicans of all those who want Ulster citizens to have the same rights as other British citizens is intolerable. Marches and meetings, whoever may take part in them, are an entirely legitimate form of protest and by banning them, Mr Craig is in effect, sitting on the safety valve of the engine and if an explosion results he will have nobody but himself to blame.' The Ulster Young Unionist Council backs Craig's decision, feeling it necessary to maintain order. It is not a ban, but rather a sensible restriction designed to prevent provocation. The NILP is criticised for siding with 'the republican-nationalist block.'

Civil rights not aim - Faulkner

Report: Faulkner sees civil rights as a republican flag of convenience, although there are, he admits, those who are sincere in their adherence to the cause. Investment in Northern Ireland is endangered by the distorted picture painted by recent events. Nationalists enjoy a growing stake in the state's prosperity and in society as a whole. So-called civil rights marchers in Dungannon ended their demonstration with a republican song; their goal was clearly not reform, but the weakening of the constitution.

Introduction     1968:   | June | July | August | September | October | November | December |
October:   | 1-5 | 7-12 | 14-19 | 21-26 | 28-31 |
1 - 5 October:   1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Top |

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